Food ingredients

Why Are Onions In Everything? (Are onions the base of every recipe?)

Almost all savory recipes start with one common ingredient- onions. I can bet that most, if not all, the savory dishes you’ve cooked in the past month contain onions.

Onions are a base for most recipes. Although several people don’t appreciate the distinct onion aroma during cooking, they remain one of the most popular ingredients in the world.

You may be wondering, “why are onions in everything?” The simple explanation is that they make dishes more flavorful. Dishes that would otherwise taste bland taste better because they have onions in them.

This article discusses the popularity of onions, why they are a base for many recipes, and substitutes you can use in place of onions.


How long do Onions last? Click to Find Out.

Why Are Onions So Popular?

People have used onions in cooking for thousands of years. There is proof that people used them in 5000BC.

Onions are known to grow easily, abundantly, and store easily. Additionally, they are affordable and add lots of flavor to the dishes they are added to. It is no wonder they are so popular.

Another advantage of using onions is that it doesn’t overwhelm other ingredients. Instead, it complements them.

If you cook without onions, the chances are that it will be a bit flavorless. If you choose to skip the onions, replace them with an ingredient that belongs to the Alium genus. Shallots, leeks, or chives would make for a good base for your dish.

Onion Smell- How to deal with it


Onions have a distinct smell that some people find overwhelming. The more you coo onions, the more pronounced the aroma becomes.

If you don’t like the smell of onions, try opening the windows when using them in your dishes.

Alternatively, you can burn some coffee beans in a pan. The carbon in the coffee beans will suck up the onion smell.

To prevent the smell of onions from getting to other parts of your house, always keep your kitchen doors closed when cooking.

Also, Check Out: Top 7 Celery Seed Substitutes.

Are onions popular because they are so abundant?


As mentioned above, onions grow easily. They flourish in most soil types and all kinds of temperatures, including cold temperatures. Additionally, they are available all year round.

It is unclear whether people like the taste of onions or evolved to like it because it is a primary ingredient in most vegetables.

You may not be able to identify the exact flavor of onion in dishes, but you can tell when it’s not in a dish.

Why Are Onions a Base For Most Recipes?


You may have noticed that onions are a base for most recipes. This is because they add a lot of flavor to dishes when cooked. You can choose to either fry, caramelize, or sauté them before adding your other ingredients.

Onions always taste better when you fry them a little bit in oil. Therefore, most recipes require you lightly fry them before cooking, even if your dish requires boiling. Frying the onions will make your dish more flavorful.

Although you can add onions to your dish without frying, I don’t recommend doing it because the onions’ texture will be off when you finish cooking, and their flavor will be too pronounced.

On the other hand, fried or caramelized onions taste pleasant and don’t overwhelm other ingredients.

Caramelized Onions 


To make caramelized onions, you have to fry them on low heat for an extended time. Frying onions on low heat for ample time makes their cell walls break down.

Since they naturally contain a little bit of sugar, the onions caramelize, making them sweeter than regular fried onions.

If you don’t like the taste of fried onions, try caramelized onions for a change.

Substitutes For Onions 

If you don’t like the flavor or aroma of onions, you may want to use a substitute instead. Here are a few alternatives that will come in handy.



Chives are an excellent onions substitute. Unlike onions, their flavor is not overwhelming. Therefore, they are the perfect substitute for people who find the taste of onions overwhelming.

Add a handful of chives to your dish towards the end of cooking to enhance its flavor. I particularly love using them in sauces and soups.


You can use shallots in recipes that call for onions. Compared to onions, they have a milder flavor.

Most people find the flavor of shallots appealing since they have mild hints of garlic flavor.

Green Onions


Green onions, also known as scallions, are a great alternative. They are underdeveloped onions that farmers harvest immediately after they sprout.

Compared to regular onions, their flavor is mild and fresh. They work well in most recipes that call for onions.

To use green onions in your recipe, finely chop the leaves and add them to your dish right before serving. Do not fry them. If your recipe requires sautéing, use the white bulbous part. Your meal will turn out amazing.



Leeks are large green onions. Their flavor is milder than regular onions, and they add freshness to the dishes you add them to.

Leeks are naturally fibrous. Therefore, you must chop them very finely before adding them to your dish.

Also, Read On: Leek substitutes you can use for tasty meals.


You can use celery in place of onions when making slow-cooked dishes, stews, and soups. Celery is aromatic with a mild, pleasant flavor. It is ideal for those who find onion flavor and aroma overwhelming.

Most of these substitutes work well in recipes that call for onions. Alternatively, you could use fewer onions than the recipe requires.

This way, you won’t find them too overwhelming. You could also use onion powder, onion flakes, or ground onion. The flavor of your dish will be slightly different, but it will still taste amazing.

Bottom Line

Onions are a great addition to dishes. They make them more flavorful and appealing.

Most dishes that don’t have onions aren’t as tasty as those that do. They may not be the base for every recipe, but they are the base for most savory recipes.

I hope this article answered your question on why onions are in everything. If you don’t like them, use the substitutes suggested above.

Also, Check Out: How to use Fresh Thyme.

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